Steven Holl asks the same question of architecture that Merleau-Ponty asks of philosophy . Can the ambulating sentient being embedded as he or she is in the matrix of concretized values as they are inscribed in that being experience and understand seeing in a context articulated for that purpose?
So the precedent of the show that Richard Hamilton did in 1951 for which a catalog was published called Aspects of Form, which aspired from essays by Herbert Reed and Ernst Hans Gombrich, Rudolph Arnheim and Konrad Lorenz also had essays mostly by scientists, mathematicians, brain researchers, and also people who were interested in sound and waves and stuff like that. So what I will be talking about is the attitude of a group of artists in the 1950s towards science and the way that they positioned themselves using the role of the scientist and their methodology.
Today I have chosen some works which I think will have more or less relevance in this context. Just briefly, I was born in Copenhagen, my parents were from Iceland but were studying in Denmark at the time, and I lived a little bit in-between. Then, ten or eleven years ago I finished art school in Copenhagen and I moved down to Berlin and I have been living there since. I came out of art school at a time (in the early nineties) when, at least in Danish art schools, it was slightly apocalyptic, always being about the end of everything in this sort of…
Martha Trivizas: What do you think of the writing trend in which the assumption is that technology is inseparable from us as human beings?
Joseph Nechvatel: I think the assumption is accurate if you think of technology as culture. Then it is self-evident. If the creation of papyrus by the Egyptians was a technological achievement, then writing developed out of technology. So maybe it’s not such a big problem if you just don’t get hung up on the association with new technology. Notwithstanding, I would say that technology is integral to us. I would accept that assumption.
Can art tell us anything about the brain? Of course art is constrained by the limits of our nervous system. Subsonic symphonies are unlikely to be appreciated by any other than bats. If art is to tell us anything about the brain that is not already obvious then insights from art must somehow relate to observations in neuroscience.
No one would accept the job. Then I went to Korea. The Koreans could build it, but they don’t make sixteen-foot-wide plates, they only make twelve-foot-wide plates, but they don’t have a bender with a sufficient capacity. At that point, I didn’t think I would be able to make the work at all…. We finally found a place, Beth Ship, a shipyard and rolling mill in Maryland, who was interested in the problem….It‘s a large machine, between forty and fifty feet long, and it generates a tremendous amount of compression. Only four of these machines, called High-Smiths, were built during the Second World War in…
I would like to argue that these two pieces by Hanneline Rogeberg and Janine Antoni not only depict the convergence of the aesthetic with the synesthetic but also demonstrate the historical transformation of the convergence itself. That is, it is not only a matter of how artists have aestheticized synesthetic experience (as in reducing it to a rhetorical ploy), but also how this process has been changed by developments in neuroscience which in turn have altered our concept of how a symptomology of perception operates.
I think there are five points that I want to make, in regards to Barbara’s contribution, and to develop on those five points, in terms of my own research in the field.
The assumption that there is a connection between the world of the aesthetic and the world of neural activity is itself an assumption. I think that we should not go along too easily with this connection without putting it properly in the form of a question. The idea that there is some sort of symmetry and concordance between these two domains remains really quite questionable from an epistemological point of view and from the…